One abused, homeless woman had no shoes. Another stood in the doorway of a Baltimore shelter last Christmas sobbing, "This feels like having friends again," when she saw Linda Greenberg coming up the sidewalk with food and clothing.
Greenberg, a petite Crownsville dynamo of good deeds, holds on to such moments from her pilgrimage to help the needy.
"It was worth every single effort I put forth to know I'd really helped someone," she says.
For the sixth Christmas, Greenberg and her family will gather great quantities of clothing and food and roam the streets looking for the homeless. They also take new and used clothing and donated food to county shelters and city rescue missions.
Last year she collected three truckloads of goods to distribute to those less fortunate, and she hopes to top that this year.
"I couldn't live with myself if I didn't repeat my actions," says Greenberg, a housewife who makes her living running a limousine service.
"If I didn't continue this I'd feel very guilty. It's a personal commitment that is a love that becomes intensified year after year."
Greenberg recalls her mother telling her as a child to take off her jacket or her hat and give it to a passer-by who looked cold.
"If you have more than you need," her father told her, "give it away."
A few years ago, as the plight of street people and the homeless gained national attention, Greenberg began to feel an overwhelming urge to help.
Soon she had made a personal cause out of collecting goods and clothing for the homeless.
She contacts businesses, visits schools, talks to Scout troops and cajoles friends and acquaintances into donating money and time.
Billing herself as "Mrs. Claus," Greenberg is asking for donations Dec.
14, 15 and 16.
She has about 30 volunteers to help her load the trucks, sort the donations and distribute the goods to shelters such as the House of Ruth and the Baltimore Rescue Mission.
As it is every year, the need is enormous, Greenberg says. She rattles off a list of needs, such as more people to help load the trucks, and churches, organizations, schools and individuals to help by buying one item in bulk -- gloves, mittens, socks, sweat shirts or blankets.
"If everyone could bring a bagged lunch, I could get hundreds. Just no perishables such as mayonnaise," she says. She also needs two liter plastic bottles of soda and desserts and snacks such as cookies and chips.
"Last year we had at least three truckloads. We must have had two tons of clothing and food," Greenberg says. "It was a tremendous outpouring of good will from the community, fabulous."
This year, American Security in Annapolis has donated two 30-foot trucks, crates and drivers.
The trucks will be set up at the Fiddler's Green parking lot at 1355 Generals Highway in Crownsville. The location is a door away from the Crownsville post office.
Donations can be dropped off from 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 14 and from 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
"This truly is a hands-on situation where people do get the clothes and food. It doesn't sit in a warehouse," Greenberg says.
She tells one story from last Christmas when the volunteers arrived at a home for abused women. "One lady was barefoot with a short skirt and a summer top in the dead of winter. She just had nothing," remembers Greenberg.
"We gave her clothes quickly, and you could see that you really were helping."